HOOVER, Ala. — It’s always entertaining when Lane Kiffin steps up to the podium. Tuesday was no different as the Ole Miss head coach spoke to reporters as part of SEC Media Days.
Kiffin touched on a variety of topics but spent a good amount of time talking about Alabama and his former boss, Nick Saban. Here’s a look at everything he had to say about Saban and the Tide on Tuesday.
Q: After last year’s game against Alabama, how close do you feel your team is to beating them? Also what would it mean to be the first assistant to beat Nick Saban?
“Well, I don’t look at it at all about being the first assistant or whatever that stat is. We were close, played really well on one side of the ball, but that doesn’t matter now. The year before, I think we lost 66-3 or something like that. So every year is different. Every year has new challenges.
I said at some interview on the way in here, the discussion was about Alabama and Coach Saban and the parity in college football, and I said he’s done it different than anyone’s ever done it and better than anyone’s ever done it. No disrespect to the coaches back before. There’s not supposed to be parity with 85 scholarships and 25 a year.
My dad tells me the stories of coming in and having 75 freshmen in his class coming in. So to do what he’s doing nowadays and every year, you guys say something that upsets him and gives him rat poison and makes him mad, and then we have to deal with that. So I don’t know what the storyline is this year. It will be something that you did about losing too many staff guys or the quarterback or whatever, but he just finds a way, and it starts with recruiting. He just does such a phenomenal job of recruiting.
So when you’ve got the best players and you’ve got to go against them, that’s enough challenge, let alone before you even get into how great he is as a coach.”
Q: This week you’ve got a week 4 matchup at Alabama. This year 111 combined points. Did you last year and do you this year have any tricks reserved in the bag offensively for Alabama?
“Well, we used about all of them. That 111 points is a lot between the two teams. Obviously, that was a big game. Coaches say every game is the same. When you have an elite program you’re playing against that you play every year that’s in your division, it just means more.
So we had a chance. They did a great job. Sark did a great job on offense. It’s kind of exhausting afterwards even as coaches, let alone being the players. That will be a big challenge going there.
And like I said before, I don’t know that anyone’s ever done it as well as Coach is now doing it for an extended amount of time, especially with scholarships as they are. Kids just keep going there. So they do a great job, and he keeps losing coaches, and he keeps replacing them.”
Q: Today Nick Saban has said that his quarterback has earned almost a million dollars so far in NIL deals. How do you see that play out with recruiting and the potential of other schools’ brands to earn them some money?
“That number just blew me away. You didn’t prepare me for that. That’s amazing. He made a million dollars and hasn’t started a game yet? Wow, I don’t even know what to respond to that, but great for him.
It is neat the players can make money now and profit off of their hard work and what basically everybody else in America gets to do. So I’m excited about it. I think it’s very challenging trying to figure out how these things happen and what’s legal and what’s not in all that. I was asked earlier about it. I said, I’m excited for it. I wouldn’t want to be compliance departments, but a million dollars, whew.”
Q: It’s my understanding that Jerrion Ealy had shoulder surgery. How is he coming back from that? What’s his status?
“I’m still blown away on this Bryce Young. The guy’s made a million dollars already? That’s good, man. He don’t need to play next year against us, then. I mean, that’s mind-blowing.
Ealy’s fine. He’s been working out with the team, and we’re excited to have a fall with him where, now that we know more about him, having a season that we could maybe move him around and do some different things.”
Q: You seem to enjoy tweeting about Coach Saban especially. Do you know if he’s seen your tweets or what his reactions have been?
“He’s certainly not on Twitter, we know that. Now, Linda, his assistant, is — probably prints them out, especially the ones that he may not like. So he probably does see those.
But I think it’s all in fun. I think you guys know, are around enough covering us, how much respect I have for him, how grateful I am for him hiring me and the three years together with him and what that did for my career.
But the respect — like I said, nobody’s done it like he’s doing it ever. With the scholarships, just should be an asterisk to what was done before, no disrespect to other coaches.”